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Teacher awarded £180,000 in disability discrimination case

A teacher suffering from cystic fibrosis who was dismissed for showing a horror film to pupils has been awarded £180,000 compensation in a disability discrimination case.

Philip Grosset worked as head of English at the Joseph Rowntree School in York. He was sacked for gross misconduct after showing the 18-rated film Halloween to a group of 15-year-olds.

Mr Grosset accepted that he had made a poor choice but said it happened at a time of “extreme stress and ill-health”. He believed it was an error of judgment that deserved no more than a verbal warning.

He told the Employment Tribunal that he was working long hours at the time and the school made no allowances for his disability. “I was given the sack for a single, one-off offence after a 12-year career in local schools. As a middle-aged man with a chronic health condition, my entire career and livelihood had been taken away from me.”

The tribunal found that the school had committed “serious and substantial acts of discrimination” and failed to make adjustments for the needs of an employee with cystic fibrosis.

Its report said: “Looked at on its own, we would not regard the single serious error of judgement involved in showing the film Halloween to a class of 15-year-olds as sufficient, in itself, to constitute gross misconduct… it is clear the showing of the film occurred at a time when Mr Grosset was experiencing a high level of work-related stress, and that this seriously affected his judgement.”

Mr Grosset was awarded £180,000 compensation. The final settlement could reach £500,000 once an additional award is made to reflect his loss of pension.

The school’s governors and management team were ordered to undergo training in disability in the workplace.

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